Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the results of a study about how well schools follow healthful policies and practices. And the news is good!
“Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a news release about the School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS). “[M]ore students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities through initiatives such as ‘Let’s Move,’ and campuses that are completely tobacco free.”
SHPPS is the largest, most comprehensive assessment of school health policies and practices in the U.S. It’s conducted at the state, district, school and classroom levels nationwide to assess these eight components at the elementary, middle, and high school levels:
- health education
- physical education and activity
- health services
- mental health and social services
- nutrition services
- healthy and safe school environment
- faculty and staff health promotion
- family and community involvement.
Some specific results of the study show that after years of efforts to phase out junk food, the ratio of school districts that prohibited it in vending machines increased from about 3 in 10 in 2006 to more than 4 in 10 last year. And slightly more than half of school districts — up from about 35 in 100 in 2000 — made information available to families on the nutrition and caloric content of foods available to students.
Between 2006 and 2012, the ratio of districts with food procurement contracts that addressed nutritional standards for foods that can be purchased separately from the school breakfast or lunch increased from 55 in 100 to more than 73 in 100.
In terms of physical education, since 2000, the ratio of school districts that require elementary schools to teach physical education increased from more than 8 in 10 to more than 9 in 10 in 2012. And 6 in 10 school districts partner with a public or private entity such as parks, recreation departments, the YMCA, Boys or Girls Clubs, or the Boy of Girl Scouts for shared use of school or community property.
The ratio of districts with policies that prohibited all tobacco use during any school-related activity increased from about 47 in 100 in 2000 to almost 68 in 100 in 2012.
SHPPS was conducted at all levels in 1994, 2000 and 2006. The 2012 study collected data only at the state and district levels. The school- and classroom-level data from SHPPS will be collected in 2014 and released in 2015.
For more information about SHPPS, link here.